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My Travel Blog

[a modern day adventure journal]

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May '13

South Dakota

On Thursday morning, we left our campsite in Sioux Falls, and continued our journey West. We stopped in at Minuteman Missile NHS and then drove through Badlands NP. 

Badlands is incredibly beautiful. Logan and I are both quite glad that we are here in the “off-season”, when the weather is nicer and the crowds fewer.

We plan on coming back to Badlands to do some camping and hiking, eager to keep exploring. After passing through, we stopped in at Wall Drug in Wall, SD, for some lunch. Although this falls squarely in the category of tourist trap, it was well worth it. We got our “Free Ice Waters” and “5 cent Coffee” which had been advertised for steadily for the last 300 miles.

After driving through, and stopping to take some photos, we continued on towards Mt. Rushmore. Even as we drew close to Keystone, SD, we could feel the continued infuence of tourism. Boy were we glad to be in the “off-season”. Mt. Rushmore is an impressive site, and the story behind it is just as interesting. We took the obligatory photos, and then headed into Hill City.

It was dinner time, and we asked the locals where was a good place to eat. A Park Ranger at Mt. Rushmore recommended the Alpine in, “You know, thats the last place I took my wife to dinner. And they only serve one meal there – steak.” At the advice of another local, we headed to Mama Rico’s Mexican, looking to score some cheap, filling food. Mama Rico was a character, but the food disappointed.

After dinner, we headed down the Needles Highway, which was gorgeous. A lot of narrow tunnels, and magnificent views made better by the rain clearing to blue sky and leaving a rainbow. We did some hiking, which was great.

We got to camp, set up and headed to bed. As soon as we went to bed, the rain hit, which lulled us to sleep. This morning (Friday), we got up and Logan did some fishing. It was unsuccessful, but thats life sometimes.

Afterwards, we headed to Wind Cave and did some hiking. Along the way we saw some bison, and went on a hike. We just finished up Jewel Cave a few minutes ago, and are hanging out in Custer, SD as Logan searches out some locals with information on local fishing holes. Tomorrow we are headed out to Devils Tower, and then camping in Badlands. Sunday will be more hiking in Badlands, and the next few days after that are TBD!

May '13

Travel Days

As I write this, I am sitting in a McDonalds in Mitchell, SD. Logan is off looking for a new O-ring to fix a leaky fuel bottle. We had a great night camping last night on Lake Vermillion, outside Sioux Falls, SD. Currently we have ~1500 miles under our belt (740 the first day, 680 the second). 

The first day got us from Charlotte through Asheville, Knoxville, Nashville and into St. Louis. The drive was a little hilly in comparison to the current flatness, but it all went smoothly. Also, gas in Tennessee is insanely cheap ($3.16/gal compared to $3.99/gal here in SD). 

We first went to the Arch of course, and had dinner at a local burger joint. It was a beautiful night in STL, and if we had planned just a little better, we might have been able to go to the Cardinals game (they won!)

Later that night, we went to Ted Dewes frozen custard, at the recommendation of the Hyatts. The place was incredibly busy, but the custard was great! Later that night we stayed in the backyard of a friend of a friend, who was very nice to let us camp out. 

Wednesday morning we left STL early, stopping at Target to get some supplies (and adapter so we can charge electronics). We made good progress, getting to Kansas City by lunch time. We had some great BBQ at Arthur Bryants, a stop that was recommended to Logan several years ago during his cross country road trip. After lunch we got our first National Park Passport stamps at the Truman NHS. 

Heading North, we left KC and headed towards Omaha, where we stopped at the Lewis and Clark National Trail Center, for a few more stamps. Not to be slowed down too much, we continued North to Sioux Falls, and camped on the west of the city at Lake Vermillion.

Today, we are headed West, planning to stop at Minuteman Missile NHS, Badlands, Wall Drug, Mt. Rushmore and camp at Custer State Park. Should be a busy day!

May '13

Roadtrip Out West!

Tomorrow morning, Logan and I are embarking on a trip out west. We are planning on making it a 11 day trip, leaving from and returning to Charlotte, NC. We will be seeing St. Louis, Kansas City, Omaha, Mt. Rushmore, Jewel Cave NP, Wind Cave, Minutemen NM, Fort Laramie, Devils Tower NM, Scott’s Bluff NM, …. and a lot more!

The plan is to post pretty regularly on the travel blog some photos and a better description of our journey as we experience it. Until then, here is a rough itinerary of the trip we have planned (printable version): Intinerary

Here is a rough idea of the travels (~3800 miles!): 

Jan '12

From Heidelberg to the Hebrides

So after many months of hard work, I can finally and extremely proudly say that my book is finished!! A few personal copies came in the mail yesterday, and I think it turned out absolutely fantastic.

Basically, after I got home, my Grandfather so enjoyed reading this blog, that he encouraged me to turn the blog into a book. Well, the blog wasn’t really written that way, but it was a good suggestion, and I started from scratch to record the adventure. The book takes the form of a glorified travel journal, recounting the places I went, people I met, how I felt and other interesting stories. I also included some of the better photos.

And now I am very proud to say that the book is for sale! You can’t buy it in stores, but you can buy it here: travel.briangroves.org/buythebook. If you are interested, I hope you purchase a copy – I couldn’t be prouder of how it turned out!

Jul '11


Well, I am in Glasgow now, sadly having had to leave Canna, but I am very excited about heading home tomorrow. Canna was so wonderful, especially because of the family ties to the island. It was so wonderful to stay with Magda, hearing the stories of Margaret and to be able to spend time in Canna House. I am not even going to try and describe it, but maybe a few photos will better tell the story.

The train from Mallaig to Glasgow is incredible though. Something about riding along one of the top rail journeys in the world nearly alone, watching the hills and lochs roll by as I munch on a lobster sandwich (freshly caught Canna lobster, fresh homemade bread and mayonnaise with chives from the garden), a beer and dark chocolate, only to be topped by hanging half out the train watching the sun set with the Scottish Highland air in my face. Maybe that begins to put it into words – absolutely incredible.

Glasgow is the opposite of Canna, so that is an interesting transition. I can’t escape the wonderful thought that tomorrow night I will sleep at home after a wonderful reunion with family – but that makes for a lonely today though, something about the contrast of what tomorrow will be like to what today is. Anyways, I need to finish packing my things and just getting everything in line for tomorrow to go smoothly. Can’t wait to be home!